Phillip A. Giordano, Esquire Gordon, Fournaris &
Balick, Esquire Melony Anderson, Esquire Balick and Balick,
L. MEDINILLA, JUDGE.
the Court's ruling on Defendants' Motion to Vacate
Entry of Partial Default Judgments. For the reasons stated
below, Defendants' Motion is GRANTED.
and Factual Background
allegations in the Complaint arise from a contract dispute
between Gam, LLC ("Plaintiff and/or
"Landlord") and Blue Swan, Inc. and L. Ronald
Olivere (collectively "Defendants" and/or
"Tenants"). Defendants operated a dry cleaner,
laundry, and alterations business at the premises and entered
into a ten-year lease (the "Lease") with Plaintiff
on or about December 12, 2003. Mr. Olivere signed an Individual
Personal Guarantee on December 12, 2003, whereby he agreed to
be personally liable for all amounts due under the
Lease. At an unspecified time, the parties
agreed to renew the Lease for an additional five
Defendants failed to meet their contractual obligations to
pay rent. In the Spring of 2018, Plaintiff gave notice to
Defendants that that it was terminating the Lease unless past
due payments were made. On April 27, 2018, Plaintiff sent
Defendants a Notice Letter that they were in default and gave
them ten days to cure. Defendants failed to make their
required payments in an amount of $281, 922.91.
29, 2018, Plaintiff initially filed suit in Justice of the
Peace Court ("JP Court") for summary possession and
the jurisdictional limit of damages of $15, 000 for unpaid
rent. On June 15, 2018, Plaintiff filed the Complaint against
Defendants in this Court for breach of contract.
undisputed that during the time of various filings, the
parties, through counsel, engaged in regular and frequent
discussions about the sale of Defendants' business in an
effort to resolve the pending claim(s). It was contemplated
that portions of the proceeds of the sale of the business
might be used to pay past due amounts. Counsel for Defendants
represented that he believed that Plaintiff was not pursuing
litigation in this Court because of the continued
negotiations between the parties. He did not enter an
appearance or otherwise plead on behalf of Defendants nor did
Plaintiff communicate to Defendants or counsel its intent to
seek default judgment in this Court.
9, 2018, the JP Court entered default judgment for Plaintiff.
On July 20, 2018 and July 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed, and this
Court entered, Partial Default Judgment against Defendants in
the amount of $295, 874.35. On July 30, 2018, the JP Court
vacated sua sponte the default judgment it entered
on July 9, 2018. On August 30, 2018, default judgment was
again entered in JP Court, but Plaintiff only sought default
judgment for summary possession because it had acquired
default judgment in this Court.
Defense counsel became aware of the judgment(s) on September
27, 2018, he immediately filed this Motion to Vacate Entry of
Partial Default Judgments. On November 11, 2018, Plaintiff
filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to
Vacate Entry of Default Judgment. The Court held a hearing on
December 4, 2018.
Superior Court Rule 55(c), the Court may set aside a default
judgment under Rule 60(b). Delaware courts favor Rule 60(b)
motions as they allow for the adjudication of cases on the
merits and allow parties to have their day in court. Under Rule
60(b), "[o]n motion and upon such terms as are just, the
Court may relieve a party or a party's legal
representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding
for the following reasons: (1) Mistake, inadvertence,
surprise, or excusable neglect[.]" "A motion to
vacate a default judgment pursuant to Superior Court ...